Torrential rain has been falling across Malawi since the beginning of January, with southern districts bearing the brunt of the onslaught. Nsanje, Chikwawa, Phalombe and Zombe are currently the worst-affected districts, and the government has declared a state of emergency.
Families suffering as floods cause devastation
The floods have affected hundreds of thousands to date. Yesterday, a BBC report estimated that 200,000 had been forced from their homes, and at least 170 killed as a direct result of the crisis. Thousands of acres of farmland lie submerged, killing livestock which farming families rely on for their livelihood and causing widespread power losses to already isolated communities.
Families are suffering further as water sources are contaminated, leaving communities at risk from waterborne disease. Children are at particular risk of infection, and with regional infrastructure in ruins, healthcare is not readily available at the present time. With flooding set to continue for many weeks, it is feared that a cholera outbreak could occur.
Food, clothing, materials for temporary shelter, blankets and buckets are desperately needed. As well as providing essential items such as these, aid agencies are working to prevent the spread of disease. The UN has deployed emergency teams to the affected regions, and the World Food Programme is airlifting in food.
SOS families remain safe
Despite the devastation, SOS families in our Children's Villages in Mzuzu and the capital Lilongwe remain safe. Although Blantyre Village lies at the heart of the affected region, we have not received any reports of casualties of damage.
However, a construction project to build a new Children's Village in the deprived town of Ngabu has been disrupted by the floods. Heavy rains have caused damage and flooding within the complex. We are pleased to report that no SOS families are currently living in the Village, and despite the severity of the weather, an open drain within the site means that progress has not been seriously hindered.
We are also working to ensure the welfare of SOS-supported community families in Ngabu, which has one of the country's highest poverty rates. A team has travelled from our national headquarters in order to check on these families and find out what we can do to support them.
Government warns communities to evacuate as crisis continues
Weather reports suggest that the crisis is far from over. Malawi's forecasting service is warning that heavy rainfall and flash flooding could continue for as long as three weeks. The government is warning families to evacuate their homes to avoid the worst of the situation. Flooding is also afflicting parts of neighbouring Mozambique, causing death and displacement, though the scale of the crisis has been limited by the swift implementation of the country's emergency flood plan.
The humanitarian situation in Malawi is developing rapidly, and we will bring you more information as soon as we can. Find out how you can help a vulnerable child in Malawi...